Blog Tour Visits for Thursday, April 30th

Hi everyone!

I hope you got a chance to visit one or both of the sites I recommended yesterday. But if you didn’t, that’s OK! Here are two more:

The first is a wonderful 5-star review from Kris at The Avid Reader. I found her post on my Twitter feed and it made my Wednesday very happy! Here’s the link:

The second is a twofer: a review and a guest post over at Melina’s Book Blog. And this makes my Thursday very happy! Here’s the link:

Have a great day!


Blog Tour Visits for Wednesday, April 29th

Good morning!

If you’d like to read about The Five Things I Wish I Had Known Before Becoming an Author, check out my guest post today on Christa Reads and Writes!

If you’d like to read a 4-star review (woo hoo!), then have a look at Jane Reads:

Have a great Wednesday!


Release Day!!

The Ghosts of Peppernell Manor_ebook cover

Good Tuesday morning! It’s Release Day for The Ghosts of Peppernell Manor!

I invite you to visit any or all of the five blogs I’m visiting today. Here are the links:

1. Review and giveaway at View from the Birdhouse:

2. Guest post at Novel Spaces:

3. Guest post at Susan M. Toy:

4. Interview at A Blue Million Books:

5. Guest post and giveaway at Dru’s Book Musings:

And today at 11:00 a.m. Eastern time, Mollie Cox Bryan will be hosting me at the Facebook Launch Party for her new novella, Scrappily Ever After. If you love scrapbooking and murder with a little romance, then you’ll enjoy Mollie’s books. Mollie would love it if you stopped by the party! You have to be on Facebook to attend; just type “Scrappily Ever After” into the Facebook search bar and voila! Hope to see you there!

Until next week,



FREE DOWNLOAD of Secrets of Hallstead House!

If you haven’t checked out my first novel yet, here’s your chance to get a free download!

You can find it at Amazon, Kobo, and Barnes & Noble:




The Ghosts of Peppernell Manor_ebook cover

My new novel, The Ghosts of Peppernell Manor, will be released next Tuesday! It’s time to give you a glimpse of the prologue and Chapter One:

* * *

“Sarah, you’ll have to stay here tonight to take care of Philip and

Gertie during the party.”

Sarah nodded, her dark eyes revealing nothing of the deep resentment

she felt toward her mistress. She should have known. The children

would have to stay upstairs while guests thronged the ballroom

on the first floor. Though Mrs. Violet Peppernell paid Sarah a high

compliment by trusting her with Philip and Gertie, Sarah nursed a

smoldering anger at being unable to go home to see her daddy, who

would be leaving tomorrow. Mrs. Peppernell knew that, but she didn’t

care about him. He was invisible to her.

Sarah fed Philip and Gertie upstairs in the nursery and then told

them a long story before putting them to bed. They liked her stories.

They were sweet children, but it wasn’t the same as rocking in her

mother’s chair and spinning tales for her nieces and nephews.

While Philip and Gertie slept, Sarah stood staring out the window,

wondering what was happening at home. She was going to miss her

daddy. Tears stung her eyes and rolled slowly down her cheeks as she

tried to imagine her life without him, but she wiped them away impatiently.

Mama had told her to be strong. After all, she was fifteen,

practically a grown woman. And these auctions were just a part of


It was just after one o’clock in the morning when Mrs. Peppernell

came upstairs and Sarah was finally able to go home. She walked

across the sweeping front lawn of Peppernell Manor guided by the

light of the full moon, listening to the rustling of the oaks, then veered

off into the small wood where she lived with her extended family and

the other slaves in small, dingy cabins. It was silent in the woods except

for the nighttime insects with their soothing chirps and clicks.

Sarah tiptoed around the small garden plot in front of her cabin

and started up the wooden steps, being careful to avoid the creaky

spots so no one would wake up. She was reaching for the door handle

when a soft noise made her turn around. She tilted her head, listening


She heard it again. It was a shuffling sound coming from the cabin

next door. The family that had lived there had all gone away, Sarah

didn’t know where, so the cabin was supposed to be empty. Maybe

there was an animal inside.

Quietly, she walked to the next cabin and peered in the front door.

She didn’t want to meet a fox or an angry raccoon.

But it was too dark to see anything.

She was afraid to step inside. She had second thoughts and started

to back away toward her own cabin.

That’s why she wasn’t able to stop her daddy when he killed himself

a split second later with a flash of light and the roar of a shotgun.

* * *

It had been a long drive to South Carolina, but Lucy and I had made

the best of it, giggling through nursery rhymes, eating fast food, making

silly faces at each other in the rearview mirror, and playing I Spy

on every highway between Chicago and Charleston.

We arrived one sultry afternoon in late August last year. I barely

remembered the back roads from Charleston to Peppernell Manor, so

it was like watching the scenery unfold over the miles for the first

time. Spanish moss hung low to the ground from stately trees over a

century old. Perfectly still water reflected the magnolias and camellias

and the hazy sky in the Lowcountry lakes and waterways that we

passed. Lacy clumps of wildflowers nodded languidly as we drove

by. Lucy was interested in everything that whizzed past the windows

of the car, commenting excitedly on all the new sights as we drove toward

Peppernell Manor.

“Look at the cows! Moo!”

“Look at the pretty flowers!” she would pipe up from the backseat

in her high-pitched little-girl voice. I loved driving with her because

she helped me see all the things I missed with my adult eyes.

As we got closer to Peppernell Manor, I found myself sharing her

excitement. I hadn’t been there since college. My thoughts stretched

back to the only other time I had visited South Carolina, when Evie

took me to her home for a long weekend. We had gone sightseeing in

Charleston, horseback riding, boating on the Ashley River, and on a

tour of an old Confederate field hospital nearby. But despite all the

fun we had, it wasn’t the activities I remembered best about that

trip—it was her house.

Manor, actually. Peppernell Manor had been in her family for

generations and even though it had seen better days and was in need

of some work, it was exquisite. As a lover of art I could appreciate

its romance and graceful architecture, but as a history major I was

more interested in the home’s past as a plantation house.

It was to this plantation house that I was returning, this time with

my daughter.


Until next week,


My Eleven Favorite Quotes on Writing

photos from Amy's phone 240

I think every writer has a favorite quote about writing. I have eleven. An odd number, I know, but I just couldn’t stop at ten. This week I want to share them with you:

11. “The best time for planning a book is while you’re doing the dishes.” Agatha Christie

10. “A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.” Thomas Mann

9. “You never have to change anything you got up in the middle of the night to write.” Saul Bellow

8. “Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.” Louis L’Amour

7. “Every writer I know has trouble writing.” Joseph Heller

6. “Writing is the only thing that, when I do it, I don’t feel I should be doing anything else.” Gloria Steinem

5. “Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.” Anton Chekhov 

4.” Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” E.L. Doctorow

3. “I would advise anyone who aspires to a writing career that before developing his talent he would be wise to develop a thick hide.” Harper Lee

2. “There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.” W. Somerset Maugham

1. (Okay, so this one isn’t necessarily about writing, but it applies and I love it) “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I–I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.” Robert Frost

Do you have a favorite quote? It doesn’t have to be about writing. I’d love to hear it.

Until next week,


P.S. The Ghosts of Peppernell Manor is released in just two weeks, so I’ll be posting more often as I have guest blogs going live. I hope you’ll take some time to visit! The first one is here:

Guest Blogger Susan M. Toy

This week I would like to welcome guest blogger Susan M. Toy, whose blogs I enjoy very much and who has much to teach writers:

 Kind Readers . . . Thank You!!!

 joan didion quote

Kind Readers,

Since I am an Author, you mean the world to me, because without you the words I write have no meaning at all. So I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of you, from the bottom of my heart, for taking the time to read what I write. You make me the Author that I am, and I owe you everything!

You, on the other hand, owe me nothing. You’ve done your bit by reading. You definitely do not owe me a written review on an online site – especially if you’re not used to writing reviews of whatever you read. I’m speaking for myself here when I say that I WILL NEVER REQUEST NOR EXPECT YOU to write a review or rate my book and writing. Whether you’ve bought either of my books or received them in a giveaway or I’ve sent you a complimentary copy – I will never, ever, ever request that you write a review. But, as I say, that’s just my attitude towards the whole review thing. And here’s why I feel this way …

I previously wrote a blog post, Most Read vs. Best Sold – my purple cow, in which I discussed a new idea I’d had for judging a book’s quality based on the number of times it had been read rather than the quantity of copies sold. You see, even though I’ve been both a bookseller and a publishing sales rep, as an Author I’m definitely not all about how well my books are selling or how much money I can make from them. I AM all about finding Readers, whatever way I can, Readers who enjoy what I write. It’s more fulfilling for me to hear directly from a Reader that they have enjoyed one of my books than to concern myself with the almighty dollar (or Euro) or worry about whether my books are selling as well as, or better than, Mr. X’s books. It’s just not worth the time I’d spend checking figures and wringing my hands, feeling all the while I must certainly be a failure. As long as just one Reader tells me they like what they read then I believe I’ve done a good job!

So you won’t hear me asking you to leave a review. (Besides having this attitude that you don’t owe me anything, Readers, I should tell you I generally don’t read those online reviews myself when making book selection decisions, so how can I expect your review of my book will ever be read by anyone else? I also wonder how many of you don’t rely on reviews, either. Hmmm …)

However, what I will ask you to consider doing is personally recommending books you read and enjoy – and not just my books, but all books you read – to your family, your friends, your co-workers and colleagues, your book club, local librarians and booksellers. Even if every Reader only tells just one friend, that’s something, because there is nothing – absolutely NOTHING! – as good as a personal recommendation. And it’s so easy to do: just mention the book’s title in a conversation; send an email to a friend you think may also like the book; post a link to the book on Facebook or Twitter simply saying you read and enjoyed the book; suggest the book to your book club/local librarian/bookseller as something they may all consider discussing/ acquiring/selling. You won’t be doing anything other than what you usually do in life, and that is carrying on a conversation with friends. Make books and reading part of your conversations. I am one Author who will be heartily appreciative if you were to do this!

And, if you wish to take this suggestion one step further, please consider writing to the Author to tell them how much you enjoyed their book. You can’t imagine what this means to me and to many other Authors – to know that you not only took the time to read what we’ve written, but that you’ve enjoyed the book enough to want to tell us, and other Readers, about your pleasure. We Authors can’t thank you enough for that, because it validates what we do by writing the book in the first place.

I received a friend request the other day (we have a mutual friend) and after I accepted, my new friend wrote the most wonderful note, telling me he had discovered my novel through a comment made by our mutual friend, and was intrigued enough to purchase a copy. Then he told me how much he was enjoying reading it! It’s the unexpected ways Readers discover our writing that thrill me, and there is nothing better than a word-of-mouth recommendation like this. So that’s why I hope Readers who feel positive about their reading experience do contact us, in one way or another. After all, most writers don’t bite! And we certainly can’t bite you on social media.

Getting back now to that “word-of-mouth” I mentioned … I’m working on developing a campaign based on this concept (or what we called “handselling” in the book business) and hope that other Readers will consider spreading the word about good books they read, not by writing reviews and posting them online – I know many of you are very shy, after all – but by doing what comes naturally and “conversing” about the books with people you already know. If it means that your friend will only read a copy they borrow from you, so be it … as long as they read the book! And you might also consider offering to purchase a copy for your local library to help them with the expense of acquiring. Or give the book as a gift, for birthdays and other occasions. Nothin’ says lovin’ like handing a friend a book you have enjoyed.

Then, hopefully, once they read it they will in turn spread the word further to their friends. Some of you are old enough to remember this Shampoo Commercial from the 1970s that illustrates my point perfectly. (Or, if you prefer, the Wayne’s World version …)

Consider doing the same for other books you read and enjoy. I’m sure I’m not the only Author who will thank you for your endorsements. I know, reviews do take time and effort to write and not everyone wants to have an online presence; a personal endorsement of anything, though, can be introduced, easily and naturally, in conversation with family, neighbours, colleagues and co-workers, librarians, booksellers – anyone you know who likes to read. As a Reader, your opinions really do matter! Really!

Thank you!!!

Susan M. Toy has been a bookseller, a publishing sales rep, an Author Impresario, and is now an Author of her own books as well as a publisher. She’s always scheming and thinking of new ways to promote ALL Authors and books and to bring Readers and Authors together.

You may contact Susan through her two blogs, Books: Publishing, Reading, Writing  and Reading Recommendations.